Posted September 30, 2011on:
(First of all – the tags, not my idea. Take it up with WP.)
I was told once that Jim Butcher created his Codex Alera series as a bit of a challenge, to write a story that combined the Roman Empire and Pokemon. I liked the series a great deal, up until the politics and military shenanigans outweighed the personal stories of the lead characters.
I like cross-genre stories, in fact, I believe that most of the great stories are inherently cross-genre. (Which means all of my books have a shot, yay!) The issue is one of character-creation, as opposed to mere characterization. When a character is created, his attributes, preferences, history, are all waiting to be discovered by the author (that’s me). Characterization is what it sounds like, the attribution of certain qualities to a basic template. Prescription, as it were. I can tell you which activity I prefer, but by now you probably know.
Cross-genre stories by definition have multiple dimensions in which to explore a character, which allows them to be people and not the cardboard cutouts they tend to be in single-genre stories. Certainly Sir Henry Merrivale is a step up from Poirot on the character scale, but even so we get almost nothing about him as a person. I’d rather read about Viscount Saint-Just, even if the romance and paranormal elements cut into the mystery-solving a little bit.
There’s a lot to be said for cross-overs like that. Certainly it spreads an interesting and unusual light on both topics. I can only hope to get some for my latest story, invented when I combined one of the signature lines of the Phineas and Ferb cartoon series with Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, back when it was good.
P&F is a cartoon about two brothers who want their long summer vacation to be as chock-full of fun and adventure as possible, so they routinely break many of the laws of physics to stage a new adventure each day. At various times during these adventures, some adult will ask them, “Aren’t you boys a bit young to be doing…” whatever. Piloting a fishing trawler. Building a rollercoaster in the back yard. Lots of different things. The Anita Blake series is about a woman who starts out as a raiser of zombies (and part-time vampire hunter) and ends up as Queen of the Undead in some bizarre fashion. Somehow the zombie part got left behind after book 2, I don’t remember much talk of it.
So one day I came up with the line, “Aren’t you a little young to be raising the dead?”
Lots of places to go with that, don’t you think?